Riley, Hardwick named to eight-player All-state team

Eight-player football

AP photo North Central quarterback Hunter Riley was rewarded for a stellar season by being named to the Associated Press All-State Team for eight-player football.

By Lee Thompson

BAY CITY, MI – Nobody was convinced Montell Glover could handle the physicality of being an every-down back.

Until he started running over everybody in his path.

Known more for being fast than being a force, Glover was asked for the first time to be both as the go-to running back for the Stephenson Eagles. He responded in hard-knocking, head-spinning fashion, earning Player of the Year as headliner of the Associated Press All-State Team for eight-player football in Michigan.

Glover spent his first two seasons of football as a deep-threat wide receiver, utilizing his dazzling speed in open territory. So when he shifted to running back this season as a junior, there were some doubts – even from Montell Glover – that he could ground and pound.

“He wasn’t so sure about it at first,” Stephenson coach Logan Carlson said. “He’s never really been a physical guy. But once he found out he could lower his shoulder and run through people, he really liked the position.”

The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder ran wild, going for 1,194 yards and 21 touchdowns on 93 carries during regular season play. Displaying his big-play ability, he turned 19 receptions into 525 yards and eight scores. He also took four punt returns to the end zone and scored twice on defense.

A pair of Hunters bagged All-State honors at quarterback in Powers North Central’s Hunter Riley and Kingston’s Hunter James. Riley replaced two-time AP Player of the Year Jason Whitens and had a big year himself, completing 101 of 163 passes for 1,560 yards and 24 TDs. James was on target for 69 of 125 passing for 1,269 yards and 21 TDs while rushing for 777 yards and 12 scores.

Central Lake’s Grant Papineau joins Glover at the running back slot. The junior went for 1,332 yards and 21 TDs while also exceling at linebacker for the 9-0 Trojans.

The receivers are a pair of big tight ends in Ontonagon’s 6-foot-7 Jake Witt and Rapid River’s 6-foot-4 Logan Hardwick. Witt is a two-time All-Stater after catching 28 balls for 651 yards and 13 TDs. Hardwick hauled down 28 receptions for 610 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Thumb-area produced the linebackers in Kinde North Huron’s Andrew Pechette and Deckerville’s Curtis Vogel. Pechette averaged an eye-popping 20.9 tackles per game with 11 tackles for loss. Vogel tallied 99 total tackles with five sacks.

Kenton Bowerman joins Vogel to make Deckerville the lone school with two All-Staters. The senior defensive back intercepted eight passes, taking two to the house. He added 749 yards and two touchdowns as a kicker returner. He’s joined in the secondary by Mesick’s Ethan Humphreys, who also had eight picks and two touchdowns when he wasn’t playing quarterback.

Pickford’s Garrett Dodds, Crystal Falls Forest Park’s Peter Ropiak, Camden-Frontier’s Jimmy Evans and Marion’s William Jenema form the All-State corps of lineman. Dodds plowed the way for 58 points per game while, Ropiak forced six fumbles, Evans recovered five fumbles and scored three touchdowns and Jenema rang up 34 tackles for loss.

Bay City All Saints’ J.P. Szczypka and Morrice’s Hunter Nowak earned spots as athletes, and fit the bill. Szczypka accounted for 38 touchdowns, including nine in the return game, while averaging 46.6 yards per reception. Nowak is a running quarterback who rushed for 1,674 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Kinde North Huron’s Issac Viers earned Coach of the Year, stepping in three weeks prior to the season and leading the Warriors to an 8-1 record and their first outright league title since 1999.

All-state team

Player of the Year: Montell Glover, Stephenson

Quarterback: Hunter Riley, Powers North Central; Hunter James, Kingston

Running Back: Montell Glover, Stephenson; Grant Papineau, Central Lake

Receiver: Jake Witt, Ontonagon; Logan Hardwick, Rapid River

Linebacker: Andrew Pechette, Kinde North Huron; Curtis Vogel, Deckerville

Defensive Back: Kenton Bowerman, Deckerville; Ethan Humphreys, Mesick

Lineman: Garrett Dodds, Pickford; Peter Ropiak, Crystal Falls Forest Park; Jimmy Evans, Camden-Frontier; William Jenema, Marion

Athlete: J.P. Szczypka, Bay City All Saints; Hunter Nowak, Morrice

Honorable mention

RB/DB Connor Bortolini, Crystal Falls Forest Park; RB/LB Scout Bigger, Engadine; RB/DB Erick Carey, Marion; TE/DL Colin Cook, Portland St. Patrick; RB/DB Mike Craig, Kinde North Huron; DB Hunter Fackler, Camden-Frontier; OL/DL Gavin Harris, Rapid River; RB/DB Benson Heath, Wyoming Tri-Unity; RB/DB Cruz Ibarra, Deckerville; TE/LB Wyatt Janowiak, Deckerville; RB/DB John LaMonthe, Pickford; QB Tanner Lawson, Portland St. Patrick; RB/LB Jacob Mauntler, Onekama; QB/DB Braydon Ophoff, Wyoming Tri-Unity; OL/DL Robert Ponchaud, Crystal Falls Forest Park; QB Connor Walters-McDaniel, Lawrence

Coach of the year

Issac Viers, Kinde North Huron